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EU diplomacy is profitable for Israel, but a disaster for the Palestinians 

An Israeli flag is set next to a European Union flag at the European Union Commission headquarters in Brussels on June 23, 2016 [THIERRY CHARLIER/AFP via Getty Images]
An Israeli flag is set next to a European Union flag at the European Union Commission headquarters in Brussels on June 23, 2016 [THIERRY CHARLIER/AFP via Getty Images]

Since Israel announced its plan to annex swathes of the occupied West Bank, the EU has only hypothesised on what steps the bloc may take in response. The most prominent of these could be the exclusion of Israel from the Horizon 2020 research grants. Other than this possibility (it is no more than that at this stage), which should have been done long before now in any case due to Israel’s perpetual violations of international law, the EU has tacitly approved Donald Trump’s deal upon which annexation is based, and will most likely restrict its collective response to rhetoric.

US President Trump has dealt Palestinians a severe blow, which would have been impossible if the international community had united, decades ago, to rectify its colonial approach to Palestine. Through non-binding resolutions, the UN led the way in creating Israel’s ability to act with impunity which is derived from Palestinian dependence. No strategy other than anti-colonial resistance could have worked, and despite the UN’s purported intentions to eradicate colonialism, it reneged and instead provided Israel with the necessary diplomatic cover to appropriate virtually all of Palestine.

The EU is no different. It placed itself at the helm of alleged peace-building strategies, in particular through its financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority alongside its diplomatic relations with Israel. As a result, Palestinians became pawns in a state-building project without a state, presided over by an internationally-funded entity that has no political legitimacy and which functions as a colonial collaborator with, and defender of, the colonial-settler state of Israel, as well as a mouthpiece for international diplomacy.

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Spanish MEPs have criticised the EU’s Foreign Affairs Chief Josep Borrell’s statement, noting that calling upon Israel to refrain from annexation is not enough. However, the EU is also portrayed as “the only international actor that can force upon them genuine negotiations between the parties involved.” There are no genuine negotiations, as any diplomat knows. Israel must be identified as a colonial power and decolonisation should take the place of negotiations, thus reversing the power imbalance that prevents Palestinians from uncompromised political decision-making.

Consider Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn’s recent statement that the EU would “inevitably” recognise Palestine as a state “if Israel moves forward with its controversial plan to annex the West Bank.” Is this ludicrous diplomacy what the PA has been striving to achieve; the recognition of a hypothetical state when there is barely any land upon which to build it? Symbolic recognition of Palestine within the two-state context has failed to achieve any political advantage for Palestinians, but recognising a state when the demise of its hypothesis has been obvious for years is the epitome of EU hypocrisy.

Writing “reproachful letters would be a humiliation for the EU,” Asselborn added. Belatedly recognising a Palestinian state is not, in EU diplomacy, because when it comes to Palestine and the Palestinian people, there is no limit to what the international community can get away with while still proclaiming itself to be a champion of human rights. The EU, in particular, relishes this status, which the PA supports unabashedly, to the detriment of the Palestinian people. Without a plan to prevent Israel’s annexation of the occupied West Bank, what role is the EU playing other than facilitating the US deal of the century? The reality is that EU diplomacy is profitable for Israel, but an absolute disaster for the Palestinians

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The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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